Note to readers: Ancient Wisdom is a series of guides that shines a light on age-old wisdom that has helped people for generations with time-honoured wellness solutions to everyday fitness problems, persistent health issues and stress management, among others. Through this series, we try to provide contemporary solutions to your health worries with traditional insights.
Moringa or drumstick, more common in Southern parts of India, is among the ancient superfoods fast gaining popularity in the west due to its incredible health benefits. The history of this powerful plant goes back to 7000 years back and is mentioned in various yesteryear texts. The herbal plant as per Ayurveda can cure more than 300 diseases and no wonder it has been part of more than 160 Ayurvedic combinations according to a mygov.in report. From leaves, stem, to flowers, different parts of Moringa plant have diverse benefits. Moringa leaves and powder are easy to incorporate in tea and other culinary delights, while flower part of the herbal plant can be prepared as drumsticks, a special fish in South India. Moringa was consumed by Maurya warriors in ancient India to challenge King Alexander’s armies. No wonder, it worked for them as Agasthya Rishi mentioned once that those who consumed this herb would remain strong and healthy even in their 90s. (Also read | Ancient Wisdom Part 31: Longevity to immunity; many benefits of Chyawanprash, the age-old wonder)
Benefits of Moringa
Moringa has a rich nutritional profile and can provide seven times more Vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more Vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, nine times more protein than yoghurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas and 25 times more iron than spinach, as per mygov.in. Moringa leaves are recommended for children as well as pregnant and nursing women. Today Moringa is being trusted by many countries across the globe for its amazing healing properties.
“Moringa is a fascinating and versatile plant with multiple applications. While its leaves are the most commonly used part, other components like flowers, fruits, and pods serve various purposes. Beyond its nutritional richness, Moringa is employed to combat malnutrition and can even purify water. Remarkably, it boasts more protein than eggs, more iron than spinach, more vitamin A than carrots, and more calcium than milk, making it a nutritional powerhouse with diverse benefits,” says Swagatika Das, Ayurveda expert and Co-Founder, Nat Habit.
Moringa leaf and powder can be used in a variety of dishes to improve immunity and strength in children and boost their brain growth. Moringa leaf soup is one healthy option for the young children while the powder can be added to roti, and dosa mix. The herb is very effective in getting rid of fatigue and boosting energy levels.
“Moringa, hailed as a nutritional powerhouse, offers a myriad of benefits that contribute to overall well-being. Rich in antioxidants such as quercetin and chlorogenic acid, Moringa plays a pivotal role in preventing aging by reducing oxidative stress, thereby enhancing cell longevity. Its rich vitamin C content makes it particularly beneficial for promoting ageless radiance, especially for the skin. Widely embraced in various countries as an affordable and accessible nutrition source, it provides essential proteins, vitamins C and B-complex, as well as iron and magnesium. Beyond its nutritional prowess, Moringa acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, courtesy of isothiocyanates, effectively averting chronic health issues, dermal problems, and scalp issues. Additionally, Moringa serves as a natural detoxifier, reversing liver damage, boosting immunity, and enhancing energy levels,” says Swagatika Das.
How Moringa was used in ancient times
Moringa has found approval in two ancient medicinal systems – Ayurveda and Sidha. The ancient Bhava Prakash praised Moringa for its detoxifying properties and described it as ‘Sigru’, one that moves like an arrow as it deeply penetrated tissues and provided deep cleansing.
The Sage Agasthya recommended Moringa for gaining strength and wrote that the one who consumed Moringa will become strong and won’t need any waking stick or support even after 90 years of age.
“In ancient times, Moringa was consumed in various forms for different purposes. It was used as a decoction in herbal teas, applied as a paste to treat skin ailments, utilized as oil for abhyangam (oil massage), employed as a medicinal plaster, and consumed as a juice for both nutritional enhancement and detoxification. The versatility of Moringa made it a valuable resource in traditional practices for promoting health and well-being,” says Das.
How to add moringa to the diet
Incorporating Moringa into your diet is easy and versatile, says Das, as she suggested different ways to add moringa to your plate.
- Enhance your morning routine by adding a sprinkle of moringa powder to your regular smoothie for a powerful nutritional boost.
- Alternatively, Moringa juice leaves for a dose of nutrition and antioxidants or indulge in the detoxifying benefits of Moringa tea.
- For a tasty twist, go the East Indian way – consider preparing a dish using Moringa leaves like you would make a ‘palak or methi saag’ dish.
- You can also add moringa fruit or drumsticks to sambar, veggie dals or make a delicious mustard-based curry out of it.
- Moringa leaves can improve breast milk production and increase its quantity and quality.
Who shouldn’t have moringa?
“Avoid moringa if you’re on anti-diabetic medication, as it can lower blood sugar further. It may also reduce blood pressure, making it unsuitable for individuals with low blood pressure. Those with thyroid conditions should be cautious, and pregnant women should consult their doctor before including Moringa in their diet,” says Das.